Improving Your School and Family Partnership

By Megan Horstmeier

School and family partnership have changed over the years. This pandemic has allowed us to see new and exciting ways that schools and families can partner to increase student achievement. Schools can no longer rely on parent teacher conferences and engagement activities like muffins with moms. While those things might get people in the door it does not include them in the work.

All families can be included in one way or another. In order to ensure that we are reaching all families and meeting  their needs we should use Joyce Epstein’s 6 keys to help guide our family engagement plans. By using these keys as guides when creating new family activities that tie into our improvement plans. We will help to create a school environment where all families feel connected and a part of the community.

Next time you are planning a new project or event consider including an aspect from each key type of involvement.

Here are the 6 keys and how each one can be implemented into you school family engagement plan.

Epstein’s Framework of Six Key Types of Involvement

Type 1 Parenting- Assist families with parenting skills and setting home conditions to support children as students. Also, assist schools to better understand families.

  • Parent education and other courses or training for parents (e.g., GED, college credit, family literacy).
  • Family support programs to assist families with health, nutrition, and other services.
  • Home visits at transition points to elementary, middle, and high school.

Type 2 Communicating- Conduct effective communications from school-to-home and from home-to-school about school programs and student progress.

  • Conferences with every parent at least once a year.
  • Language translators to assist families as needed.
  • Regular schedule of useful notices, memos, phone calls, newsletters, and other communications.

Type 3  Volunteering- Organize volunteers and audiences to support the school and students. Provide volunteer opportunities in various locations and at various times.

  • School/classroom volunteer program to help teachers, administrators, students, and other parents.
  • Parent room or family center for volunteer work, meetings, and resources for families.
  • Annual postcard survey to identify all available talents, times, and locations of volunteers.

Type 4  Learning at Home- Involve families with their children on homework and other curriculum-related activities and decisions.

  • Information for families on skills required for students in all subjects at each grade.
  • Information on homework policies and how to monitor and discuss schoolwork at home.

Type 5  Decision Making- Include families as participants in school decisions and develop parent leaders and representatives.

  • Active PTA/PTO or other parent organizations, advisory councils, or committees (e.g., curriculum, safety) for parent leadership and participation.
  • District-level advisory councils and committees.
  • Parents active members on BLT, PBIS committee etc.

Type 6  Collaborating with the Community- Coordinate resources and services from the community for families, students, and the school, and provide services to the community

  • Provide information for students and families on community health, cultural, recreational, social support, and other programs or services.
  • Provide information on community activities that link to learning skills and talents, including summer programs for students

For more information visit the NNPS website at

National Network of Partnership Schools | Johns Hopkins University School of Education

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